6 Current MLS Stars Who Would Thrive in Premier League

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 16, 2013

6 Current MLS Stars Who Would Thrive in Premier League

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    For years, Major League Soccer has been looked down upon by many European football fans for its supposed lack of quality and inability to produce top-notch players. 

    That assumption has been almost wiped out by the amount of talent that MLS has sent overseas in recent years. 

    The latest quartet of players to move to England included Roger Espinoza (Wigan), Kei Kamara (Norwich), Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea, both whom moved to Stoke City. 

    With the talent level in MLS growing by the season, there is no doubt that some of its best current players could easily thrive in the world's most recognized league, the English Premier League.

    Here is a list of six current MLS stars who would not have a problem adapting to the game in England and succeed in the process. 

Omar Gonzalez, D, Los Angeles Galaxy

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    The Los Angeles Galaxy have been known to acquire plenty of veteran superstars by way of the designated-player rule, but now one of their younger, homegrown stars is receiving plenty of accolades.

    24-year-old center-back Omar Gonzalez is poised to become the next best thing in American soccer, and debates surrounding his future at the club level have begun to be more prominent amongst the American soccer media. 

    Gonzalez was named MVP of the 2012 MLS Cup, which was won by the Galaxy over the Houston Dynamo. That award now accompanies the 2009 Rookie of the Year and 2011 Defender of the Year awards that the United States international has already been awarded in his young career.

    Gonzalez also shined brightly on the international stage in March when he was a part of a makeshift American back four that held Mexico to a scoreless draw at Estadio Azteca. 

    The defender's contract ends at the end of the 2013 season, and there are some whispers that he could be elevated to designated player status by the Galaxy or pursue his career elsewhere abroad (via MLSSoccer.com)

Nick Rimando, GK, Real Salt Lake

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    There has been a long tradition of American goalkeepers starring in the EPL with Tim Howard and Brad Guzan currently being the two standout Americans in the English top flight.

    The man who sits behind Howard and Guzan on the United States men's national team depth chart is Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando, who is quite the keeper in his own regard. 

    Rimando has spent his entire career in MLS, and, at 33, a move to the EPL may be unlikely. If he did move across the pond, he could fit right into the top spot at the keeper position on someone's depth chart. 

    The MLS veteran has experience winning championships with two MLS Cups under his belt, and he would be a great fit for a mid-level EPL club in search of an experienced and successful veteran. 

Graham Zusi, M, Sporting Kansas City

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    No player in MLS has improved his stock in the last year as much as Graham Zusi has. 

    Zusi, 26, has filled in for Landon Donovan in the United States midfield and has earned plenty of positive feedback from American fans and national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann.

    The play of the Sporting Kansas City midfielder has also been noticed by West Ham United, a club that took Zusi and fellow American Juan Agudelo on trial back in January (via Goal.com).

    Zusi's improvement on the pitch has not slowed down in the current MLS season as he already has two goals and two assists in five matches. 

    Whether or not he goes abroad before the 2014 FIFA World Cup remains to be seen, but fans of the English game should see the American star on their pitches sooner rather than later if his progression continues at this rapid rate. 

Federico Higuain, F, Columbus Crew

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    If the name Higuain sounds familiar to you, it should, but we are not talking about Real Madrid's Gonzalo in this article.

    Gonzalo's older brother, Federico, came to MLS in 2012 from Club Atletico Colon in Argentina and has been one of the league's best players since. 

    The 28-year-old forward does have experience at the European club level with Besiktas. He played 14 matches for the Turkish giants back in 2007. 

    Higuain is the type of creative player that any club in the world would love to have in its side, and if he has a strong 2013 with the Columbus Crew, he could see some attention from across the pond. 

    If Higuain can win over a national audience in America like he did last summer with his outstanding free kicks and frequent goalscoring, imagine how excited an English fan base would get over him. 

Diego Valeri, M, Portland Timbers

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    Diego Valeri is another current designated player making a name for himself in MLS in a short period of time. 

    Valeri, who was signed as a designated player by the Portland Timbers this offseason, has shown how much talent he has in just five matches on the pitch for Caleb Porter's club. 

    At 26, Valeri could be using Portland as a spring board for the next step in his career, which could very well see him move overseas. 

    Another plus that would come along with signing Valeri is the fact that he does have some UEFA Champions League experience, although it was just a brief amount of playing time with Porto during the 2009-10 season.

    Valeri is the type of creative midfielder that would be welcomed by any EPL club, and he would also bring a solid amount of flair and creativity to the English game. 

Jose Villarreal, F, Los Angeles Galaxy

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    Jose Villarreal may not be a household name in America just yet, but the 19-year-old Galaxy forward has a boatload of potential that fans in Los Angeles are getting a glimpse of this season. 

    As any young player on the Galaxy roster would be, Villarreal has been overshadowed by designated players Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, but plenty is already expected out of the young American.

    Villarreal has made his way up the ranks in the United States youth system, and while he may not be included for the current World Cup cycle, he is a player who will most certainly lead the United States front line in the next four-year cycle.

    Clubs in the EPL may not be willing to take a risk on the 19-year-old at the moment, but based on what we have seen out of the 19-year-old early on in his career, England is a probable destination in a few years time for him.

    Which MLS stars do you think would be a good fit in the EPL?

    Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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